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Some people have begun to claim that further opposition to North Korea's nuclear weapons programs is pointless and advise acceptance and containment as an ongoing policy. That might make some sense in a vacuum, especially if no one wants to perform the tough tasks ahead in enforcing sanctions on the Kim regime. However, the AP reminds us of the stakes involved in this question, and that North Korea's defiance hasn't taken place in a vacuum at all:
The head of the U.N. nuclear agency warned Monday that as many as about 30 additional countries could soon have technology that would let them produce atomic weapons "in a very short time," joining the nine states known or suspected to have such arms.
Speaking at a conference on tightening controls against nuclear proliferation, International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei said more nations were "hedging their bets" by developing technology that is at the core of peaceful nuclear energy programs but could be switched to making weapons. ...
ElBaradei did not single out any country but was clearly alluding to Iran and other nations that are working to develop uranium enrichment capability, such as Brazil.
Other countries, including Australia, Argentina and South Africa, have recently announced that they are considering developing enrichment programs to be able to sell fuel to states that want to generate electricity with nuclear reactors.
Canada, Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Switzerland, Taiwan, Spain, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Lithuania are among nations that either have the means to produce weapons-grade uranium if they choose, could quickly assemble such technology, or could use plutonium waste for weaponization. All are committed to relying on conventional weaponry, and there is no suggestion they want to use their programs for arms.
The countries named above represent no real threat. All of them, as the AP notes, abide by the non-proliferation treaty and have no interest in seeing nuclear technology or products wind up in the hands of terrorists. The nations that should concern us get mentioned at the end of the article:
Other countries considering nuclear programs in the near future are Egypt, Bangladesh, Ghana, Indonesia, Jordan, Namibia, Moldova, Nigeria, Poland, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam and Yemen, U.N. officials say.
How would a nuclear Egypt sound? After all, the Muslim Brotherhood that spawned al-Qaeda through men like Ayman al-Zawahiri has gathered considerable political power in Egypt and could easily follow Mubarak's secular authoritarian regime to rule the nation. Should we also prepare for acceptance of their hands on nuclear technology? How about Indonesia, where a significant amount of the population approved of the two Bali bombings as a defense of Islam? Could we contain Jordan if the Islamists take over nuclear technology in Amman? And if they do in Egypt and Jordan, how long before Syria gets the bomb?
The world watches North Korea to understand whether the West has given up on nuclear non-proliferation. Kim's defiance informs the entire global community, and many states wait on the precipice. If we shrug our shoulders in acceptance and fall back to a containment strategy, we will have to employ that strategy in a dozen more places within a dozen years or less. A failure to remain firm on the North Korea will give a green light to a new arms race, and this one will eventually result in terrorists getting their hands on the bomb.
Will we shrug our shoulders then, too? Or will we find our resolve far too late to stop the atrocities that will follow?Sphere It View blog reactions
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Some people have begun to claim that further opposition to North Korea's nuclear weapons programs is pointless and advise acceptance and containment as an ongoing policy. That might make some sense in a vacuum, especially if no one wants to [Read More]
Tracked on October 17, 2006 12:25 PM
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Tracked on October 18, 2006 5:07 AM
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